NBA Free Agency 2013: Highlighting Top Scorers Available This Summer
They say that defense wins championships, but it's difficult to raise a banner if you can't put points on the scoreboard.
Let's face it, possessing a player who can be relied on to score night in, night out is critical if you want to call yourself a championship-contending team. Therefore, you can expect a handful of NBA franchises to look to the free-agency period this summer to bring in a top-flight scorer or two.
In that spirit, we'll highlight the top NBA scorers set to become free agents this summer.
Monta Ellis, PG
Veteran point guard Monta Ellis led the Milwaukee Bucks in 2012-13, averaging over 19 points per game during the regular season.
But if Ellis was more efficient, that mark could have been even higher. The former Lanier High School star shot just 42 percent from the floor (the worst percentage since his rookie season with Golden State in 2005-06) and a dismal 29 percent from beyond the arc during the regular season.
Ellis peaked statistically in 2009-10 with the Warriors, averaging over 25 points per game on 45 percent shooting from the field. But at age 27, Ellis still has some bright years ahead of him and can be a star for whatever team lands him this summer.
If he can become more efficient and improve his shot selection next season, there's no reason why he can't rank inside the NBA's top six in points per game like he did three seasons ago.
J.R. Smith, SG
New York Knicks swingman J.R. Smith was often overshadowed by Carmelo Anthony in the Big Apple last season, but he still managed to average over 18 points per night for the Atlantic Division champions.
But Smith is a notoriously streaky shooter, and his 2012-13 numbers reflect that.
He shot just 42 percent from the field during the regular season last year and hit just over 35 percent of his three-point attempts. The good news is that Smith got to the free-throw line four times per game on average, where he hit at a clip of 76 percent.
Keep in mind that Smith's impressive scoring production was aided by the fact that he averaged a career-high 33.5 minutes per night.
Al Jefferson, C
It's not all that easy to find a big man who can score consistently in today's NBA, but Al Jefferson is of a dying breed of big men who can operate and score down low in the post.
Which free-agent scorer will put up the most points next season?
The Utah Jazz center averaged 17.8 points per game last season and has been putting up big scoring numbers ever since leaving the Boston Celtics in 2007. The 28-year-old center averaged a career-high 23.1 points per game in 2008-09 with the Minnesota Timberwolves, and he shot the exact same percentage from the field this season than he did then.
Jefferson's biggest weakness is arguably the fact that he doesn't get to the free-throw line a ton. He averaged five free-throw attempts per game in 2008-09 with Minnesota, but less than three this past season with the Jazz.
But with more touches in 2013-14, Jefferson could easily post 20 points and 10 rebounds per night.
Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter.
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